Chad Michael Murray to Marry Sophia Bush

07/14/2004 at 12:00 PM EDT

Chad Michael Murray to Marry Sophia Bush
Chris Delmas/VISUALPressAgency
Chad Michael Murray may play Prince Charming to Hilary Duff's put-upon main character in A Cinderella Story, which opens this week, but when it comes to living happily ever after, the Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls vet has chosen his One Tree Hill costar, Sophia Bush, to marry him – sometime next year.

After procuring her parents permission to ask for their daughter's hand, Murray popped the question to Bush two months ago while the two 22-year-olds were in Australia, where he was shooting the remake of House of Wax, USA Today reports. He got down on one knee and presented her with a ring he helped design with a Down Under jeweler.

"I couldn't bring her home until the sun went down because I had 500 candles and 20 bouquets of roses set up," Murray says. "Then I had this big light strand on a tennis court with a message (spelled out) to her that you could see looking down from the balcony of our 18th-floor penthouse."

While he won't reveal the contents of the message, Murray does say that Bush is "perfect. She keeps me inspired, and she complements me very well. She's a neat freak, and I'm dirty. I can't help it. I wrestle with the dogs every day. We watch football on the weekends and keep our life to ourselves."

As for last year's stories that Murray was dating Duff, then 15, "It was fun," he says, explaining that it was strictly platonic. "But then everyone was like, 'Chad's dating Hilary Duff,' and I was like, 'Dude, I'm no pedophile.'"

As for Duff, she told PEOPLE earlier this month that kissing Murray for Cinderella was "much better than my real first kiss, but like, probably way more awkward because there were 270 people watching, crew and stuff like that, and we also shot it on the third day of filming. Out of those three days, I'd only worked with Chad one day. ... and we actually practiced a little bit."

Practiced kissing? "Yeah," said Duff. "I had to. Like, there was just so many people there, and (we) were just like, 'You know what? We have to forget about everyone staring at us and go for it and not even think about it.'"

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